Sarah Crowe left Atlanta, and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship, to live alone in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house's former tenant - a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property. And as the gnarled tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago.
©2009 Caitlin R. Kiernan (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"[Caitlín R. Kiernan has] a gift for language that borders on the scary." (Neil Gaiman)
Many reviewers have complained about the meandering plot, lack of clear conclusion, swearing etc.
I don't like the novel because of any of these things, and yes, I usually prefer a more sympathetic main character too.
Yet the novel is worth reading if you like good writing, both in descriptions and in characterization.
I loved Lovecraft and Poe as a child, but have long since rejected the first for his laughably bad writing and see no reason to reread the second because his characters have so little depth.
In comparison to Kiernan, Stephen King spins a better plot, but I don't think a compelling plot is what Keirnan is trying to write here.
In terms of description, both literary quality and ability to convey creepiness, she writes as well -- better, I'd say -- than the best of King, and she does a better job revealing the tragedy and especially the ambiguity that lurks in relationship.
Yes, there is some sweaty sex that may titillate or disgust the reader, but the really compelling and heartbreaking thing about the novel is the portrayal of a tentative new friendship that is a shadow of hope threatened by horror.
The tension lies in wondering whether the narrator will be saved, go down with her friend, or be left even more alone in the darkness.
After listening to this book, I am a new fan of Ms. Kiernan. The tale is chilling in a way the creeps up and over and under the skin, taking its time but not taking too long. I finished it feeling dazed and uncomfortable, which is precisely how I like my horror. A unique and troubling read.
Somehow between the introspection and melancholy that I've been left with after this, I believe I've become a fan of Caitlin R. Kiernan. Enjoyable is the not quite the right word for this, but definitely compelling, the need to experience what happens next. I also appreciate the way the main narrator, really becomes the character, and even the use of several narrators.
It raises questions and leads you down paths, and then circling back...I'm searching for some green monofilament, and maybe it will lead to the conclusion somewhere. I actually listened to the last segment three times, to make sure I din't miss anything. I hadn't. I don't like to be left hanging at the end of a story, but as she says, it is fickle, and is meant to be that way. If you can handle that and what the previous reviewers have mentioned, it is worth it!
This is the best horror novel I've read in some time, filled with mystery, the tangled legacy of history, personal tragedy and the difficult war with one's own grief, the awful recognition of losing one's creative capabilities and seeing an inescapable tragedy approaching, and some great surprises wonderfully presented. Kiernan brings her distinctive fusion of scientific and artistic appreciation of the world to bear on this chronicle of a life's final months.
This book will either leave you exclaiming,WOW! Or have you scratching your head and thinking, HUH..? I'm leaning on the side of WOW! This is not a fast paced chiller-thriller. It's not supposed to be. Is it a story about a haunted tree? Well sort of. In any case, I can't get it out of my head.
Yes, I might.
I'm not sure there's one that compares exactly. It has a "falling down the rabbit hole" surreal feel to it.
The story about the woman on the cliff.
No, probably not.
It's not scary (I feel like I write that a lot about "horror" books lately *sigh), but it is interesting.
A middle-aged Lesbian horror author burdened with grief, epilepsy, and writers’ block leaves her native Atlanta to reside a summer in an isolated farm house close to a gigantic oak tree with a sinister reputation. Though she can’t write a novel, she can keep a journal, and this, plus the contents of a notebook she finds in the house, constitutes most of the novel. She has horrifying experiences that drive her to suicide, but whether said experiences are “real” or “imaginary” is left to the reader. I wasn’t surprised to read Kiernan later admitting that the story was partly autobiographical.
The credits list three voice actors, one for the author, one for the editor who provides a preface, and one for the professor who wrote the notebook. I am convinced that Audible listed the actors in order of appearance, not importance, and that is Katherine Kellgren who is the voice of the doomed writer. Ms Kellgren did a fine job as Mina Harker in the Dracula audiobook I heard in October. Here, she is even better as a tough, foul-mouthed, gravel-voiced Southern gal who is going into the abyss kicking and cursing. An excellent performance.
Very difficult to put into words how much I enjoyed this reading, but I'll try. I'd read the book years ago, liked it, but probably didn't grasp it then like I do now with this second pass. The reading of it was both intoxicating and mystifying, opening up its many dimensions.
Many listeners will find this a little too slow, but once you get used to the pace, it flows so well you can't wait to find out what comes next. Quite interesting from both a horror and a historical perspective.
A great book if you are a patient listener, someone who likes movies like the Witch...even better if you're a writer listening to how a master story teller spins a yarn.
Be prepared for some spine tingles with this ones folks. I have not read too many horror storues and chose this one because the author is an advocate of HP Lovecraft and I was curious to read/hear this story.
I was surprised how chilling this book was aty times - I am a mature man with a wide variety of tastes - but Caitlin R. Kiernan took me on a journey of facination, suspense and yes . . horror.
But the horror was not "in your face" . . it was well scripted around a general story of a woman who rents a remote house ... simple . .yes ? . . well no - the background is well proportioned and the build up to the moments to real terror are irresistable.
A good read - but will make you sleep with the lights on once or twice.
For anyone interested in horror, I'd definitely give recommend it. I would, however, recommend that they buy it in paperback, primarily because of the godawful performances on display here.
The endless walk would have been an excellent, tense moment, if only the narrator hadn't sounded halfway through her second bottle of wine and ready to about fall asleep.
The southern drawl might only be a pet peeve of mine, but the feeling of boredom on the part of the narrator is unmistakable. If you'd drugged her half out of her mind and held up flash cards while you whacked her on the head, you might have gotten a better performance. It ruined any sense of immersion, suspense or fear, and in a horror novel those are the most important things to get right. For a different genre she might have been a good fit, but here she was either miscast or just didn't care.
Yes. Listen to samples more thoroughly before buying.
In all fairness, the two lesser used narrators both performed well, but it ended up only making the third one look even worse by comparison.
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